Latest Tips

Real Madrid vs Sevilla Copa Libertadores Betting Marseille vs Troyes Cadiz vs Atletico Madrid Montpellier vs Lyon

At his official Juventus unveiling earlier this month there was a visible lump in Wojciech Szczęsny’s throat.

After 11 years at Arsenal he was finally saying goodbye to the club he supported as a boy growing up in Poland.

With just a year left to run on Szczęsny’s contract, Arsenal had decided to cash in on the goalkeeper and in the end it was Juventus who stumped up £10m to sign him.

But, as he sat in front of a room full of cameras and journalists as the latest player to join the Italian champions, it was a question about whether he had any regrets over his time at Arsenal that had the usually vocal 27-year-old lost for words.

“Yeah, that’s a difficult question because…I spent 11 years…sorry,” said Szczęsny, as the translator came to his rescue before the goalkeeper asked for a few moments to compose himself.

It is perhaps only too right that such a topic would leave Szczęsny close to tears because after such a bright start his Arsenal career went down a path he would not have envisaged.

After becoming Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper during the 2011/12 season, Szczęsny was beginning to show the potential which had led to the Gunners plucking him from Poland when he was just 16.

Back then a fresh-faced Szczęsny was earning less than £100-a-week, but through hard work and patience, he eventually made his way to the top.

That was until events begun to unravel two years ago.

The Poland international was reportedly fined £20,000 by Arsenal for smoking in the showers following a New Year’s Day defeat at Southampton in 2015 and circumstances slowly took a turn for the worse from there.

Injuries played their part too, as did the emergence of David Ospina, and by May of that year Szczęsny could only watch from the bench as Arsenal defeated Aston Villa 4-0 in the FA Cup Final.

Szczęsny neatly summed up that season recently in an interview with The Guardian: “It was terrible.”

However, since then, the goalkeeper has slowly but surely begun to rebuild himself and it is why Arsenal may be the ones filled with regret in the future and not Szczęsny.

After falling out of favour in London, the Pole moved to Roma on loan for the 2015/16 season and he got the fresh start he needed.

Having initially taken time to adapt to a new culture, language and league, Szczęsny showed signs of promise during his first season and, by the time he returned to Roma again for another campaign, there was an expectancy he would thrive.

The predictions proved correct as Szczęsny recorded the most clean sheets out of anyone in Serie A last season with 14 to his name.

Incidentally, that was also four more than his Arsenal team-mate Petr Čech managed, while he also exceeded the 35-year-old when it came to penalties saved and catches claimed. As it happens, his pass accuracy was also 25% higher too.

It is statistics like that which leave Arsenal fans wondering if the club have made a huge mistake in letting Szczęsny go.

More poignantly, there is also the simple question of – how can Szczęsny be deemed good enough for the Italian champions and Champions League finalists, but not Arsenal?

Critics will argue that the Polish goalkeeper is more suited to Serie A and there is undoubtedly an element of truth in that but, conversely, it cannot be overlooked at how much Szczęsny has matured as a person over the past two seasons.

Crucially he can see the mistakes he made during that fatal season two years ago and he is ready to learn off an experienced professional, like Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon. It is exactly what he has been doing at Roma under Romanian stalwart and back-up goalkeeper Bogdan Lobonț, so could he not have done the same at Arsenal with Čech?

At 35, Čech has one, perhaps two more years at the top. What better way to spend them then grooming Szczęsny to be his successor? But no, instead Arsenal will now be hoping they don’t live to regret what might have been.

Naturally there have been many instances where clubs have let goalkeepers go, only to see them flourish elsewhere. Edwin van der Sar’s move from Fulham to Manchester United in 2005 is perhaps the best example, but Arsenal have profited in the past too.

Pat Jennings arrived from rivals Tottenham in 1977 and went on to make more than 200 appearances, while Čech’s £10m move from Chelsea in 2015 left José Mourinho enraged.

Now, for once, Arsenal will just be hoping the shoe isn’t on the other foot when it comes to Szczęsny's sale.


Premier League